With less than a week to go before the current MLS Collective Bargaining Agreement expires, Major League Soccer still has no deal in place for a new CBA and there is no reason to believe a deal will be done before Jan. 31, when the current CBA runs out.
Soccer America reported this morning on long negotiations taking place on Tuesday, with more talks set for Wednesday. Sources have told SBI that no deal is in place and a deal is still far from being completed.
Seattle Sounders star Freddie Ljungberg caused a stir when he mentioned on his blog that he had been assured that there would be no lockout or strike on the Feb. 1 date when the current CBA expires.
Based on the latest news I’ve heard from both sides, there wont be a lock out or strike on Feb 1.
That statement left many believing a deal was on its way, but that isn't the case. All it could mean, and likely does mean, is that MLS does not intend to lock out MLS players immediately after the current CBA expires, which had been expected.
That is a far cry from a labor deal being done, but it could be seen as evidence that the Feb. 1 date will not mark the actual date when things turn ugly. If so, that would be a bit of progress considering MLS had previously threatened the player's union with a lockout if the CBA were allowed to expire with no new deal in place (threats that took place early in the negotiations, according to sources).
So what happens when the CBA expires on Jan. 31? If MLS doesn't follow through with a lockout, the league will continue to operate under the old CBA, which is something neither side is interested in having happen.
Will a deal be made? MLS can't afford to not get a deal done, and I'm not convinced all league owners are ready to let a lockout/strike happen, let alone drag on, but any suggestions or hints that a deal is already done or close to done are misleading. MLS is still holding firm on many major issues while the Players Union appears ready to fight hard for changes, at least fight much harder than it did in the last CBA, when MLS trampled a weak union and walked away with every concession and a league-friendly CBA.
There is still much to be done and the real battle will be taking place in the coming days.